My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Baez’s first album was recorded in the ballroom of a New York hotel room in July of 1960 and was released later that year. According to Baez, the album was recorded while she was sitting on the floor of the ballroom, having just two microphones, her guitar and voice. Baez indicates that most songs were done in one take. The record contains many traditional, but non-political folk songs, as well as a couple of children’s ballads.
What I liked: Let me start by saying Baez has an amazing voice! Her versions of “Fare Thee Well” and “House of the Rising Sun” show this off well. I sort of think of folk singers as those who wouldn’t do well in other areas of music, but Baez could have sang whatever she put her mind too. The simplicity of the album (just a guitar and her voice) works great, there is no reason to add additional layers of sound.
What I Didn’t Like: While her voice is amazing, one thing that sort of unnerved me was how much vibrato she used to stretch out the lines in each song. Just personal preference is all. With individual songs, “All My Trials” really lost me and I’m not a big fan of the child’s ballads (“Mary Hamilton” and “Henry Martin”). I was also a taken aback by the lack of political leanings in the songs that were chosen.
My Overall Thoughts: The album surely has some ups and downs making it far from perfect, but it captures the strength of Baez’s voice. In addition to that, the minimalism in instrumentation keeps things simple and powerful.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I think without a doubt this album should be here. This seems like the starting point for the 60’s folk revival that followed in the next couple of years. I’m excited to listen to them and feel as though something would be missing without this album.
Rating (Out of 5): 4
Amazon Review (Out of 5):5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (22/27)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 81%